The Covid-19 Working Group, tasked with creating an Infection Control Protocol for the phased reopening of churches in Scotland, met for the first time yesterday (Wednesday 13 May).

Chaired by Sir Harry Burns, Scotland’s former Chief Medical Officer, the group will focus on two parallel work streams: Infection Control and Liturgical Norms.

  • Infection Control: The drafting of infection control standards will be overseen by Sir Harry and Professor Stephany Biello, a professor of Neuroscience and Biopsychology at the University of Glasgow, who has joined the group.
  • Liturgical Norms: The creation of new liturgical advice, which will govern the celebration of Mass and other sacraments, is led by Bishop Hugh Gilbert together with Canon Thomas Boyle, Canon Thomas Shields and Fr Gerry MacGuiness.

Sir Harry said: “I’m very pleased that the Working Group on Infection Control has started to work and delighted to welcome Professor Stephany Biello as a member. Her expertise will be invaluable to the group.

"We are keenly aware, that the goal of reopening churches will be reached only after careful planning and preparation, always taking account of best infection control practice and in step with Scottish Government guidance.”

He added: “I extend my thanks to all those contributing to the work of the group and assure the Catholic community that Scotland’s bishops are determined to draw on best practice from around the world to allow our churches to be opened again in a phased and safe way.”

The BCOS Pastoral Ministry Working Group also met yesterday. Its aim is to plan for forms of pastoral ministry which will be "viable in the COVID-19 context". Read more here.